Critical for the Wise E-Consumer, to know first before purchasing professional genealogy research services on the Internet, is the answer to the big Question – Am I hiring a self proclaimed professional or a professionally designated Genealogist to discover and accurately document my family tree?

Many lists that are Googled on the world wide web clump all genealogists together calling them professionals or experts merely because the researcher has claimed himself a professional genealogist, paid a fee and put up a web site. The first thing that a discerning and discriminating purchaser of professional genealogy research services must do is to find out what kind of genealogist is being hired – professionally designated or self proclaimed. Because there is no authorized registry of qualified practitioners, the purchaser must determine if any professional education or professional organization stands behind the quality of work performed by the genealogist as a professionally designated genealogists because the professional has been certified, or accredited, or signed a code of ethics and is a paid member in good standing. Those who have pursued the professional route to practicing genealogy by acquiring the educational component – a degree in Genealogy, and earned the training and experience, gained the professional credentials of AG(R) Accredited Genealogist and CG (SM) Certified Genealogist,are members in good standing of professional genealogy organizations, and have set up a properly constituted professional genealogy research services company are the professionally designated professionals the consumer needs to know about on the Internet in order to choose the right professional genealogist to hire to seek out their genealogy. This is critical for consumer awareness and for the elevation of our industry in the professional world.

The Internet e-consumer must look at what is listed on the web about the professional and then compare it to the lists found on the APG or Association of Professional Genealogists’ web site(, BCG or Board for the Certification of Genealogists’ web site (, or ICAPGen or the International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists’ web site ( These organizations provide standards and ethics for those listed with them who have either passed the appropriate tests and received accreditation; been judged by their peers and certified; or paid membership dues and signed a code of ethics to achieve professional status. Each list has components unique to the individual organization. The consumer should become aware of all three organization,in-order to find out the formal genealogy education and credentials of the respective practitioners.

Most of today’s professional genealogists advertising on the Internet are self designated; a few are professionally designated. For example, James W. Petty, AG (R), CG (SM), B.A. (History), B.S. (Genealogy) earned his genealogy college four year degree in 1973. This has been his primary credential for over 33 in addition to his degree in history and his accreditations and certifications. He is listed on all three web sites with his professional credentials posted as per each organization’s rules. A consumer will be better prepared to answer the important question about hiring the right professional genealogist by using Mr. Petty as an example as they study and learn about professional genealogy standards and ethics of these three organizations.

Posted by Mary E. Petty, B.A. Cum Laude (History)
Vice President HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc.
Member of Salt Lake Utah Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists
Ancestors are the People of History. Do you know who yours are?
Let the Professionals at HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy find your ancestry! 1-800-570-4049 * * PO Box 893 * Salt Lake City, Utah 84110